MASKED MAN SETS SIGHTS ON STARTS
SHEFFIELD United’s ‘man in the mask’ Marc McNulty is hoping his Capital One Cup winner against Southampton will help end his super-sub tag.
The Scottish striker was given a rare start by boss Nigel Clough against Saints in the quarter-final and netted the only goal.
He pounced after an uncharacteristic error from England and Southampton stopper Fraser Forster to send the Blades into the last four – the same stage they reached in the FA Cup last term – where they will play Tottenham.
Despite McNulty hitting his eighth goal of the campaign in Tuesday night’s home win, 11 of his 16 league appearances that preceded yesterday’s visit from Walsall have come from the bench.
However, the 22-year-old – wearing the mask for protection after sustaining a facial injury in an incident in a Scottish nightclub which police are investigating – is keen not to become synonymous with saving his best for the final knockings.
“I’ve been used as a sub more than I’ve started,” said McNulty, one of nine Scots at Bramall Lane. “No-one wants to be on the bench and I don’t like the term super-sub. But whenever I’ve been called upon I think I’ve done the business.
“It’s only my first season down here and it does take time to get used to playing in this league. But the more games I play and the more time I get training with the boys, the better player I will be.”
The former Livingston man’s immediate concern is helping the Blades continue their amazing cup form to reach Wembley and maintain their quest to play Championship football for the first time since 2011.
Manager Clough has overseen 16 cup ties in his tenure and won 13, including victory over Premier League high- flyers West Ham in this year’s Capital One Cup. QPR are the next top-flight club set to try and overcome United when they meet in the FA Cup third round at the start of January.
Then they have the enticing two-leg semi against Tottenham to look forward to later in the month. Spurs are at home in the first leg, with the return at Bramall Lane.The winners will play either Chelsea or Liverpool in the final.
“Tuesday was unbelievable. It’s stuff you dream of,” added McNulty. “Last year we went on a brilliant run in the FA Cup and there is great belief among the boys that we are good enough to give anyone a game on our day. We’ve already been to West Ham and won this year.
“Wembley is in the back of our minds, but we have a semifinal to think about first of all. Over two legs we feel like we have a chance, especially at Bramall Lane where the place will be crazy. The boys need to take confidence from these results, because we have been a bit stop-start in the league.”
GLORY: Marc McNulty nets against Southampton